Stonewalled: Hotel opening set for fall 2005

Every renovation project encounters setbacks. And the $21.1 million Stonewall Jackson Hotel and Conference Center project is no exception, having thrown developer Tom Redd a curveball or two.

"The issues that we've had with rock have been a little surprising," Redd says.

But as he escorted a bevy of city officials on a recent tour, Redd said the project– despite the obstacles– is on schedule for its anticipated fall 2005 grand opening.

One snag came when the US Department of the Interior– gatekeeper for $2 million in federal historic tax credits– demanded preservation of a stairwell slated for demolition on the western half of the historic landmark in downtown Staunton.

Developers and city officials did succeed in reversing another Interior Department ruling on the project. In the summer of 2003, the Department said that demolishing two adjacent brick townhouses would jeopardize the tax credits because the townhouses were considered "contributing" structures within the Beverley Historic District," according to E. Blaine Cliver, chief appeals officer in the cultural resources office at the National Park Service.

In November 2003, the Interior Department relented, and the townhouses were razed in late May of this year.

Then came the stone– in the form of a rock ledge on the site of the demolished townhouses. The discovery slowed foundation work on the conference center addition, Redd says.

The discovery also complicated the lives of construction crews, who are now working on a tighter timeline than had been projected.

"Ideally, we would like to get as much of this work out of the way as we can before the cold weather sets in," Redd says.

This pair of brick townhouses on South Market Street– and the funky mid-century diner addition– were demolished in May to make way for the conference center between the existing Hotel Stonewall Jackson and the Blackfriars Playhouse.